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Churchill Slap Fight March 17, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Tanks.
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4 comments

Back when I first bought the Churchill III in World of Tanks, I was figuring out how I should fight it when I came up against opposing heavy tanks.

Here, in one of my early battles, I try to come to grips with a Churchill I.

(Direct link to the video to view larger versions.)

Clearly, going head to head wasn’t the best solution.

Going around the back though…

Lag, Losses, and Mods January 14, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Tanks.
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14 comments

It has sort of becomes a regular item here, the post-weekend World of Tanks summery.  I am a creature of habit.

Of course, it helps if there is something new to write about.  And last week, that seemed to be in question.

I have played shooters in the past and have rarely been anything beyond mediocre on my best days, which means I depend on my team mates for wins.  I am best in support of somebody who knows what they are doing.  So I have had to get used to the random matches where the quality of your team mates can vary greatly.  Sometimes you get a good group and they come together, and sometimes you get… something else.

Last week I was doing poorly in that regard.  One evening I had a 19 loss run.  So went my semi-even win/loss record.  And while that was the low point, wins seemed to be pretty rare for me until the weekend, when I did make up some ground.

A loss streak like that does cast a light on some of the regular characters in the game.

There is the guy who needs to broadcast to all that his noob team sucked.  Just so we all know it wasn’t his fault, though he usually has time to broadcast because he’s already been knocked out.

There is the scout who rushes ahead, spots the whole enemy force just leaving their laager, dies, and then rages about how the arty, which wasn’t even in range, failed.  I think he is related to the guy who runs off on his own, dies, then rages that nobody supported him.

There is the “one true objective” guy with his mantra, “take the hill and win the match.”  I’ve been on teams that have taken the hill and still lost, especially during Himmelsdorf encounter battles.  This actually comes in two flavors, the guy who says it before the match, and the guy who says what we should have done after it is clear we’re losing.

And the one I always appreciate, the dead guy who is watching now you play and telling you that you suck.  This guy can pop up whether you are winning or losing.  I had a guy kibitzing like this the other night.  I was in a position where I was taking long range flanking shots at three of the other team that couldn’t move forward.  A guy starts telling me that I suck, Churchill III is in accurate, I need to push on, blah blah blah.  And, as he said this I made 20+ hits, killed two, and seriously damaged a third bad guy, none of whom could spot me.  To me, this seemed like the perfect use of my time.  Yeah, I didn’t hit with every shot, but the Churchill III’s 6 pounder can make that up with sheer volume of fire.   But this guy continued to rage at me as I did that, then pushed to the cap.  We won, by the way.

I still think the game is fun, and these sorts don’t pop up as often as they might I suppose.  Occasionally there is one very angry guy typing away furiously.  But mostly people play and win or lose without ire.

Still, I wouldn’t join a random team VoIP channel in public matches, if there was one.

And, despite my miserable mid-week record, I did managed to earn enough experience to get into the T-150.  Training from the KV-2, where it was 13K experience, also lit it up on the KV-1, which is now an elite tank for me.  So I got to start off with another new Soviet heavy.

A Fresh T-150

A Fresh T-150

I even had enough experience to get out of the initial gun, a miserable 76mm door knocker, and into the long barreled 85mm, which can do some damage against the opposition.  And I needed it.

Part of my loss streak… or at least my streak of destroyed tanks… was because the T-150 seems to get matched up with a lot of higher tier tanks.  I was frequently at the bottom of the list in a match with mostly tier VIII tanks.

I also seemed to draw assault maps a lot.  After I drew six in a row, always on the attacking side… which is generally the losing side… I turned off assault in the options.

I don’t mind assault really.  They can lead to some very fun matches.  But it is a type of battle that really takes a team, something you do not often get in random public games.  Given my choice, I would do encounter maps all night long.  I like how those maps force both teams into a fight over a single objective.  And, at least everybody knows where to go.

Still, persistence got me the track and turret upgrade so eventually I could mount the 107mm gun on the T-150.

107mm Armed T-150

107mm Armed T-150

The barrel is still long, but it doesn’t look quite as silly as it did on the KV-2.

I also camo’d it up, moved the equipment from the KV-2 over (camo net, binocular periscope) and even bought some consumables.  Somebody linked to the consumables page on the wiki with the terse message “speed governor” in a comment on a completely unrelated post, but I still got the message.

I was a little hesitant to try it, as it comes with a dire warning about engine damage.  But it was cheap, you don’t have to buy a new one every battle, and I was aching for some sort of speed boost.  So I went with it and Lend Lease oil.

T-150Consumables

And, as far as I can tell, it has never caused me harm.  I was afraid my engine would spontaneously combust and leave me a smoking wreck 10 yards from my start point.  But it seems more benign than that. I put one on the Churchill III as well, which lets it keep up with the other heavies.  Sort of.  I am still debating the Lend Lease oil.  That one is 5K credits ever match.  That isn’t enough to put me in the red even after a losing battle, but that does add up over time.

Now that the T-150 is up and going, my time with the KV-2 is diminishing.  But it did get a good send off.  The final battle with it was on everybody’s favorite map, Dragon Ridge, where we have chased a German heavy into a gully.  He was heavily damaged, but was too low to hit.  I pulled close and waited for him to fire.  He missed and I roared forward off the edge of the gully and onto him, crushing him for the kill.  I might have to go back and Fraps that with the battle replay.  I thought it was hilarious.

This weekend I also started tinkering with mods for the game.  Gaff had been talking about an artillery sighting mod that he had tried.  But it was a reticule he linked me that I ended up using.

Dream Target

Dream Target

It conveys all the data you need in a nice package.  I grabbed that one and another one that more accurately displays the direction from which you are being hit so you can match bearings and fire on a reciprocal heading.  That doesn’t work often, but I have managed to flush out a couple of hidden targets by just blazing away in the right direction… usually into the lone pile of cover.

This past weekend was also double crew experience, so I played a bit more than I might have otherwise, attempting to get one Soviet heavy crew to 100% on the first secondary skills.

That last few percent...

That last few percent…

Even at double crew experience, with accelerated crew experience selected, and playing the Churchill III with its experience bonus, that last 10% is quite a hill.  My commander hit 98% eventually.  But it will be a couple dozen more battles before he caps I bet.

I also found out that World of Tanks is an excellent way to tell if my daughter is using her Nook Color to surf the web rather than read as she promised she would.  For reasons I cannot explain, when ever she hits this Warrior Cats forum she frequents, the lag indicator in the game goes red and my ping spikes to 999ms.

Somebody is surfing...

Somebody is surfing…

I cannot prove that her Nook web surfing activity is causing the issue, but the correlation between that and my seeing this issue is extremely high.  So web surfing on the Nook is officially banned when it is time for me to battle.  She can still read on it… which is what she was generally supposed to be doing in the first place… but web is verboten while daddy tanks.

(Also, you can see in that screen shot that a mod I added… I do not remember which… puts the time up next to the Lag indicator, which is nice as the game rather aggressively takes over the LCD display on my Logitech G15 keyboard where I generally leave the time display up.)

And, finally, I did find this article on playing the Soviet T-28 tank pretty amusing in light of my own experiences with the beast.  The only thing worse than dying in a T-28 is dying to a T-28 I guess.

Anyway, the next goal after the T-150 is the KV-3, which will put me in tier VII, and which isn’t really that far away.  I could be there by next weekend, given some effort over the week… and a few less losses.

Big Guns, Slow Tanks, and Crew Training January 7, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Tanks.
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9 comments

Now into tier VI with the KV-2 and the JgPz IV, I am no longer earning a new tank to drive every week.  Proportionally you just need more credits and more experience to move up tiers the higher you get.  Those who climbed all the way into tier X deserve their free T-shirts.

I do not play enough… just hit 1000 battles mark… or well enough… 50% win ratio is coin flip time… to vault up that high any time soon.  My goal for this year is to obtain a tier IX vehicle.

Still, there are advances to be made.  The KV-2 started out with the 122mm U-11 gun.

122mm KV-2

122mm KV-2

But I managed to finally earn enough experience to get the 152mm M-10 gun plus the upgrades needed to support it.  The big “derp” gun was mine at last.

152mm KV-2

152mm KV-2

And it worked as advertised.  I managed to one-shot a lightly damaged Churchill on my first outing, catching it broadside as it crossed a street I was camping.  Very satisfying.

Of course, it was just a Churchill.  That model is the staple of the British heavy tank line, which is enough to make me avoid the British heavy tank line.  I love shooting them, but couldn’t see myself driving one.  What crap tanks.  If I went for the British tree, it would be to get one of those fast and annoying Cromwells.  They are always sneaking up on my flank.

The shiny fun of the 152mm gun started to wear off pretty quickly though.  It is really a gun for a specific environment.  If a city map, or at least a map with some confined space, comes up in the match maker, where engagement ranges are close, I am pretty good.  But a wide open map where I might have to engage people at a distance and where I do not have a place to run and hide… and go make a sandwich… while the 152 reloads, then things tend to go less well.  I get lit up with hits like a pinball machine, the first of which inevitable breaks a track, rendering me immobile.

And the 152 isn’t always up to the job even in close quarters.  I had a heavily damaged T-29 come around the corner at one point, allowing me to fire on him at spitting distance.  But I got the “it bounced off” message.  And then came that embarrassing moment where I am reloading and backing up and waiting for the inevitable pain as his turret slewed around and he opened fire.  He lived, I died.

Comedy isn’t always pretty.

So I spent a chunk of time on Sunday working to get enough experience to the 107mm ZiS-6 gun which, among its virtues, looks even more ridiculous on the KV-2 than the other two guns.

107mm KV-2

107mm KV-2

It is like the Pinocchio tank, and I have been telling people I am ‘leet. (And generally, not only is my nose long but my pants… or at least my engine compartment… is often on fire.)

This gun is much more to my liking.  It is more accurate.  I can hit things at range now and again.  It has better penetration, so things I hit usually feel it.  It reloads fast enough that I can get off more than 4 or 5 shots a match.  And it is lighter, which means the whole tank is lighter, so I can move a bit faster.  With the 152mm gun mounted I swear I had a KV-1S pass me while in reverse.

Of course, that 107mm gun was kind of expensive in experience, so I cheated a bit by converting some experience from my gold Churchill III tank.

Wait, what?

Wasn’t I just denigrating the British heavy tanks because of the Churchill?

Yes I was.  And I still feel that way in general.  I enjoy shooting a Churchill with my KV-1 or my StuG. III… or especially with my KV-2… more than driving one.  And I am not going to start on the British tank tree any time soon.  But the premium Churchill III has certain advantages of which I was previously unaware.

Over at The Mittani there is an article up comparing the relative merits of the tier V premium tanks in the game.  Premium tanks are the ones you buy with the RMT currency, gold, which you must acquire with real world cash.

I have generally eschewed the premium tanks.  I do have a Type 59, which I bought back when it was considered over-powered.  I have generally used it to earn credits or to just run out and play in the higher tiers when not working on a specific goal.  But that is the only one I have purchased up to this point.  I have a couple of others that were gifts to players at various points during the life of the game, most recently the T1E6.  But that accounts for all of the premium tanks in my garage.

So what changed my mind?

First, I had been unaware that you could move crews from your other tanks into a premium tank of the same nationality and type, so you can double up on you first daily win experience bonus for your crew.  And since I have been working on Russian heavy tanks, the Churchill III fit right in.

You see, the Churchill III is a Lend-Lease version of the Churchill, so it is in the Soviet tree and not the British.

Second, the Churchill III has an experience modifier that earns it more experience per match than its Soviet heavy counterparts.

And, third, when it comes to the match making algorithm, it is only ever put up against tanks that are tier VI or lower.  So while that QF 6 Pounder seems like a pop-gun amongst the heavy tanks, it has just enough penetration to do damage consistently.  And it fires much faster than the larger caliber guns on the field.

Finally, it was only 1,500 gold, so what the hell.  I bought it.

Churchill III

Churchill III

I bought it without a crew, put the camo net on it, bought the camo paint (it only adds 5% more to cover, but who knows when that 5% might make the different), clicked the “accelerated crew training” box, and moved the crew from my KV-1 over to it.

And I have not done too badly with it.  It does get chewed up by arty rather quickly and it shares the affinity for track damage that the KV series seems to.  And it is slow.

But the 6 Pounder does penetrate as advertised.  I have plinked away at more heavily gunned foes quite successfully, getting off 3-5 shots and ducking behind cover when it is time for them to fire.  And I do not seem to attract as much hate as the KV-2 on the battlefield.  I seem to be viewed as more of an easy victim with a small gun and will get singletons coming after me, only to pepper them to death with rapid fire.

The experience bonus seems to be in effect as well.  My average experience per match with the Churchill III is over 700.  Given my 50/50 win-loss rate and generally crap skills, that is pretty good.  And my KV-1 crew seems to be coming along nicely.  They were around 50% trained on their first secondary skills when I picked up the Churchill.  They are now closing in on 90%. (That climb from 90% to 100% seems pretty steep though.)

It will be nice to get a crew finished with a set of secondary skills finally.  I have half a dozen crews sitting between 50% and 80%.

I did turn off the accelerated crew training for a bit on Sunday to build up and convert some experience for the KV-2 gun upgrade.  But other than that, I have been working on crew training.

So that is where I stand at the moment, still investing in the Soviet heavy tank tree.